Winner Clete Horn, left, and defending champion Rocky Shore square off in Thursday evening’s final bout of Blacktip Island’s annual Kickboxing Day festivities. The day-long event celebrates Colonial islanders’ struggles against Caribbean pirates. (Photo courtesy of Rudolph A. Furtado)
Blacktip Island residents Thursday celebrated post-Christmas Kickboxing Day with martial arts contests, children’s games and a cook-off at Diddley’s Landing public pier, sponsored by the Caribbean island’s Seaman’s Society.
“The festival started in Colonial times as a way to practice community defensive techniques,” Blacktip Island historian Smithson Altschul said. “Blacktip’s original settlers developed a unique fighting style to combat the region’s pirates. Every Blacktipper was required to learn to fight on land and at sea.’
“The original Kickboxing Days allowed islanders to celebrate Boxing Day while testing their skills against other settlers,” Altschul said. “Now it’s as much a part of the holidays as tacky Christmas lights, overcooked turkey and third-rate college football.”
This year’s festivities began with traditional island feats of endurance.
“We kicked things off with the 5K underwater pub crawl,” said Blacktip Island Seaman’s Society president Jay Valve. “A combination of oxygen-rich, nitrox-filled scuba cylinders and mimosas at each station help shake off any lingering holiday hangovers.
“After that, the Leftover-Off ran through mid-afternoon,” Valve said. “It’s amazing the variety of delicacies island folks can cobble together from holiday leftovers. Finalists this year included stuffing pancakes with cranberry syrup, frozen green bean casserole pops and deep-fried candied sweet potatoes.”
Some residents focused on the day’s physical contests.
“No K-Day’s complete without the Destruction of the Christmas Playlists,” Eagle Ray Cove divemaster Gage Hoase said. “Nothing makes the season bright quite like copying a holiday playlist to a CD, then flinging it as far as you can across the bay. With this year’s north wind, we had a couple nearly break the record.”
The highlight was the evening’s kickboxing competition. As ever, contestants were encouraged to compete in appropriate seasonal attire.
“This year I fought off Santa, two elves and Jesus,” said winner Clete Horn, who opted for reindeer attire. “One elf was a kick-heavy tang soo do dude. Then, in the finals, Jesus gave me fits with that monkey kung fu of his. But I whomped him in the end.”
Event organizers noted the festivities’ unifying qualities.
“At its heart, Kickboxing Day is a uniquely Blacktip tradition that brings the community together during the holidays,” Valve said. “We had smaller rings where kids could strap on gloves and footpads and just wail on each other. After an afternoon of that, and a shot of brandy, the kiddos sleep like logs.”
Residents agreed Kickboxing Day are an integral part of the island’s holidays.
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year on Blacktip Island,” Ginger Bass said. “It’s cathartic, really. Nothing helps you cast off the old year, and gets you excited about the new one, quite like seeing someone who pissed you off get laid out with a roundhouse kick to the head. I still have one of Lee Helm’s molars from last year’s quarterfinals.”